In February of 1985, the Capitals were in first place in the Patrick Division, trying to hold-off the Philadelphia Flyers, who were close on their heels in second place. On February 14, the Capitals played the second game of a road trip, dropping the first game the night before. They were also looking to win their first game on Valentine’s Day in franchise history.
The Capitals were in the early portion of a long road trip west of the District, which featured stops to all the westernmost teams at that time – Winnipeg Jets (original), Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers. The trip included five games over a period of 11 days.
The trip began in Winnipeg on February 13, where the Capitals dropped a 5-3 decision to the Jets. In the game, several Capitals players had reached notable milestones, but because they lost, there was little in the way of a celebration. Bobby Carpenter scored his 42nd goal of the season, setting the record for most goals by a U.S.-born player in National Hockey League (NHL) history. Meanwhile, Doug Jarvis played in his 777th consecutive game to move into second place for most consecutive games played, behind only Garry Ungar, who then held the all-time record of 914 games.
After the loss in Winnipeg, the Capitals moved on to Calgary for the second game of the back-to-back set. The four players (Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Carpenter, and Scott Stevens) who had been selected for the 1985 NHL All-Star Game (also held in Calgary) were even more exhausted as they were playing their third game in as many nights.
The Flames had an amazingly good record at home. No other team in the Patrick Division had beaten the Flames at the Saddledome Arena in Calgary. Pat Riggin was in goal for the Capitals for a second-straight game, while Don Edwards was in goal for the Flames.
The first period featured no goals or penalties, going into the intermission tied at 0-0.
The second period was much more active in terms of goal scoring, as well as in penalties. Eddie Beers of Calgary broke the scoreless deadlock at 3:31 with his 18th goal of the season. He was assisted by Kent Nilsson and Paul Reinhart.
Nearly 40 seconds later, Dave Christian tied the score for the Capitals with his 23rd goal of the season; assists were credited to Bryan Erickson and Lou Franceschetti. Over a minute later, Steve Tambellini scored a go-ahead goal, assisted by Tim Hunter.
The back-and-forth scoring continued. Just a few minutes later the Capitals’ Greg Adams scored his fourth goal of the season, getting an assist from defenseman Larry Murphy.
Bobby Gould of the Capitals took a tripping penalty at 11:24. Before Gould’s penalty expired, Calgary was hit with a Too Many Men penalty at 12:49, which set up a brief 4-on-4 that was followed by a Capitals power play. Early in the man-advantage, Capitals forward Craig Laughlin took a high-sticking penalty which set up yet another 4-on-4; despite a number of opportunities, neither team scored.
36 seconds after Laughlin’s penalty expired, Calgary took the lead on Mike Eaves’ 13th goal of the year on a rebound of a shot by Paul Baxter; Jamie Macoun had the other assist. The score remained 3-2 in favor of Calgary going into the second intermission.
Neil Sheehy of the Flames (and a future Washington Capital) committed a holding penalty at the 5:23 mark of the final frame, which put the Capitals on the power play. On the ensuing man-advantage, Bobby Carpenter took a pass from defenseman Mike McEwen at the Flames’ blueline before firing a 55-foot slapshot that found its way behind a screened Don Edwards for the game-tying goal and Carpenter’s 43rd goal of the season; Larry Murphy had the other assist.
Carpenter scored the game-winner at 13:50, getting assists from Mike Gartner and Gaetan Duschesne. Duschesne and Gartner forechecked in the corner and Gartner got the puck over the stick of a Flames defenseman. This made the score 4-3 and held up as the final score.
With the victory, the Capitals were the first Patrick Division team during the 1984-85 season to beat the Flames at the Saddledome. It was also the first time the team had won on Valentine’s Day in franchise history. They played on Valentine’s Day on three prior occasions (1978 against the Vancouver Canucks, 1981 against the Montreal Canadiens, and 1982 against the Colorado Rockies).
Capitals Head Coach Bryan Murray spoke after the game.
“’We realized Calgary plays well here and knew we had our work cut out for us.”, adding that the Capitals wanted to make amends for Wednesday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, “After last night, we did not want to lose three in a row and the guys just bore down.”
He talked about Carpenter’s performance. “Bobby, he’s been playing some good games for us and was due to win a game for us. We were fortunate Bobby got away an extra shot.”
Carpenter himself talked about his game-winning goal. “We forechecked in the corner, and that resulted in the goal.”
Capitals captain Rod Langway talked about an added incentive. “We knew we had to win as we heard Philadelphia had won earlier. We want to keep winning to keep first place in our division.”
By Diane Doyle
To read more Retro Recaps, visit NoVa Caps’ History Page HERE
Washington Post: Game Preview Calgary and Recap of Winnipeg Jets
UPI: The Washington Capitals Accomplished What No Other Team in 1983-84 Has Done
Box Score of February 14, 1985
To Hockey, With Love: A Look at the Washington Capitals on Valentine’s Day